The last season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is incredibly good, and the most recent episode gave us the best lightsaber duel in Clone Wars history - Ahsoka Tano vs. Darth Maul. If you want to know why that fight was so good, check out the behind-the-scenes video for it.
The work that went into creating just one scene in an entire season is astonishing, and Dave Filoni's dedication to Star Wars lore and history makes this the stuff of legend - although I'd expect nothing less from Filoni, who's somewhat of a spiritual successor to George Lucas.
Filoni (who serves as showrunner for Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Mandalorian) knew that he wanted to do something special with the fight that fans have been anticipating since long, long ago. So he got the actor and stuntman who portrays Maul in the live action films, Ray Park, to perform the entire fight sequence in a mo-cap suit, along with Mandalorian stunt performer, Lauren Mary Kim, who portrays Ahsoka.
Park and Kim performed the Mandalore throne room fight scene inside of a square that looks like the mat for a floor gymnastics routine, complete with lines to delineate its center and marks they had to land on. "We've just been hitting it hard, coming up with new stuff," Park says, "We're trying to do as much as we can - butterfly twists, and flips, and corkscrews." The animation team then had to turn those twists and flips into the iconic Clone Wars style. It's not your run-of-the-mill mo-cap experience, oh no, as the visual style of the show includes impossibly high jumps and lightning-fast lightsaber hits, not to mention the specific art style in which the character models are animated (think sharp angles and bold tones).
The improved visual quality of this season of The Clone Wars made this scene look even more stunning, with lighting that takes your breath away as it plays off of Maul's scowling visage. Seriously, this scene looks beautiful, and it's a huge reason why I called this final arc one of the best Star Wars movies we've gotten yet (opens in new tab).
I'm fully here for the passion that seeps through this entire video. As the team, including Maul voice actor (and The Force Unleashed protagonist) Sam Witter watches the mo-cap play out in front of them, they're floored by how well Park embodies the fallen Sith lord. "It's Maul," Wittwer says. "I have goosebumps."
Me too, Sam. Me, too.
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